AT&T: iPhone 3GS flying off shelves now that it's "free"

AT&T is seeing unprecedented interest for the two year old iPhone 3GS after it announced massive price cuts, allowing first timers or existing customers to walk away with the device for free on contract.

The company's wireless head Ralph de la Vega said during a call discussing summer results. There was still "tremendous demand" for the now two-year-old phone to the point where inventory was being sold out. It was also the phone of choice for more new customers than any non-iPhone device.

With around two thirds of customers already using a smartphone, de la Vega also sees this as a launch pad for the future of the company to put a smartphone in the hands of all their customers, he estimates that it will take two to three years for that to happen, calling it a "huge opportunity," he said.

With the recent launch of the 4S and the now-free 3GS pricing, AT&T has seen its best smartphone sales ever in the fall, de la Vega added.

He also hinted at "more tiered data options" to cater to what customers wanted, but emphasised that it would be more beneficial to the high end than the low, as the company had just switched on its LTE 4G network and plans to add LTE smartphones soon.

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The contracts are still expensive, phone providers are cashing in on the name, whereas normally a cellphone that old would either be sent back to the manufacturer or put on a PAYG scheme. I'd sooner pay $200 for a PAYG iPhone 3GS, than the way they are doing it.

Yeah, At the cost of AT&T... not worth it.. Better off getting a 4G capable device.. and technology that is vastly outdated already.

Krieg said,
Getting a 3GS (even if it's "free") is a huge waste of a subsidy.
I agree, spend the extra to get the 4.... but people LOVE the word "free"

Surely I'm missing something… Contracts for smartphones in the US go for at least $ 60/month for 24 months, right? So in the end you'll pay $ 1440 + the price of the phone, which means that buying a 3GS (free with 8 GB) or a 4S ($ 200 with 16 GB) is the difference between paying $ 1440 or $ 1640… Considering how much better the 4S is over the 3GS, who in their right mind would prefer the former?

that's why I put "free" in the title, rather than free.

Edit: You're also required to take a data plan of at least $15 p/m on top of the two year contract as well.

fsX said,
Considering how much better the 4S is over the 3GS, who in their right mind would prefer the former?

People without $200, cash in hand. I realize if people can't save up $200 then they probably shouldn't be burdening themselves with a cellphone data plan but the number of financially irresponsible people in this country is staggering.

fsX said,
Surely I'm missing something… Contracts for smartphones in the US go for at least $ 60/month for 24 months, right? So in the end you'll pay $ 1440 + the price of the phone, which means that buying a 3GS (free with 8 GB) or a 4S ($ 200 with 16 GB) is the difference between paying $ 1440 or $ 1640… Considering how much better the 4S is over the 3GS, who in their right mind would prefer the former?

If you can get $60/mo then that is pretty dang awesome! I have a pretty barebone package with AT&T (1000 txt which is no longer available, 450 mins, 200MB) and that is about $75 w/taxes and stuff. But I for the most part agree with your point that the difference in phone cost is pretty small in comparison to the value added from having a newer more capable phone on the exact same monthly plan. Even more negligible for most folks on Verizon or with AT&T's 2GB data plans who are paying closer to $100/mo.

Still, on my estimate the $200 phone makes up about 11% of how much you pay on the plan.

But to some folks, a dollar saved is a dollar earned. The 3GS may not have all the bells and whistles of the iPhone 4S, but it has most of the same smartphone functionality that people want to have. Truth of the matter is most folks go for the free Androids over the newer ones too...granted they get to "free" on-contract status a lot faster. Honestly, I think if I was interested in not paying for my smartphone I would probably get an Android phone since they will probably be newer models when compared to the 3GS. Then again, 3GS is running the latest OS....bah.

My missus wants a 3GS. Just because she hates here HTC Wildfire so much.

I would sooner pay £200 though for a 4 just for the picture quality. Pics of my kids growing up is well with that extra money.

3GS does not have Flash for the camera. 4 has Single LED Flash. If you are really looking for a phone to take pics of kids growing up; pick a Nokia with Dual LED Flash or Xenon Flash.. Unless it is bright and sunny outside, pics with iphone are not going to be satisfactory.

I wouldn't mind picking up a 3GS, only problem would be is that I'd want to play the games on it... which would make it useless lol.

The Teej said,
I wouldn't mind picking up a 3GS, only problem would be is that I'd want to play the games on it... which would make it useless lol.
Games run just fine on the 3Gs. It also supports OpenGLES2 so that's good

Rudy said,
Games run just fine on the 3Gs. It also supports OpenGLES2 so that's good

I'm talking games in 2012. I'm aware most games that run on the iPhone 4 work fine on the 3GS too.

BK201 said,
Flying off the shelves........ into the trash bin.

I'm so glad I'm not you. I'd probably just end it to be fair.

been using 3gs since aug 2009. upgraded gradually from os3 to the current ios5. with new features added with each upgrades. have to say this is the most satisfying and value-added phone i have ever owned. i think it still have plenty of mileage left in it. probably going to replace it when iphone 5 come out. keyword here is "probably".

Yeah I went from the iPhone 3G to 4, and for me that was well worth the upgrade because the 3 was becoming very slow with all the iOS updates!